By Mitch Traphagen
SUN CITY CENTER - During a Hillsborough County Sheriffís Office retirement event a few weeks ago at the District IV office in Ruskin, Sheriff Cal Henderson mentioned having to fill more than 40 open positions through promotions.
In District IV, two outstanding members of the HCSO were recognized and became part of those promotions.
Captain Jerry York, a 31 year veteran has been promoted to Major, replacing the retiring Larry Terry.
"Iím fortunate that Major Terry left the district in good order," said York. "I plan to continue the work that he started and expand upon it."
Over the years York has served as a patrol deputy and as a detective in burglary, robbery and homicide. He also served as a patrol supervisor and commanded the Community Relations Section.
Drawing on his experience from that latter tour of duty, York hopes to expand community policing. "I want to be involved in the community," he said.
As those who know him are already aware, York is rarely quick to take credit for his accomplishments. "You know this isnít about me, itís about the men and women who serve in District IV and Hillsborough County. Iíll do whatever I can to make their jobs easier and better. But Iíve got big shoes to fill."
In Sun City Center, Community Resource Deputy Joe Burt has been promoted to Corporal. Burt will leave his post in Sun City Center to assume his new supervisory role down the road at the District IV office.
The news of his promotion was met with both happiness and sadness in the community. Those who know him are pleased to see the recognition of his service yet sorry to see him go.
Burt came to Sun City Center six years ago from the Narcotics Division.
Burt learned quickly that Sun City Center would not be the typical tour of duty. "In terms of community policing, Sun City is different because we have no deputies that live there," he said.
"It was a total change of pace," said Burt referring to moving from Narcotics to Sun City Center.
"Iíve still had to make arrests here. With any population there is going to be that element. While there are fewer of those issues here, that element does exist."
As many residents can attest, Burt realized that part of his job was just being present, providing a sense of comfort for those in distress. Sometimes, as in the cases of chronic health problems, there was nothing he could do but be there.
"My heart goes out to those people," he said. "Thatís probably the hardest part of community policing. As officers we are human and the way to let people know that is to become personable. As community officers we are not ĎJust the facts, maíamí and all that. As a community deputy you open yourself up."
The new Sun City Center Community Resource Deputy is Rob Thornton. Thornton is currently on duty in the community and is working with Burt to learn about the unique needs of the area.
"Luckily theyíve allowed for some time with Dep. Burt so I can get a good solid grounding on what I need to know and who I need to know before I take over on my own," said Thornton.
Thornton comes to Sun City Center from an area on the south end of Brandon. "They have their own unique problems," he said. "Some were difficult to solve but I worked hard with the community and we did make an impact. And now, this is going to be so much better because there I had to really try to get people to work with us. In Sun City Center, people are lining up!"
When asked about his knowledge of golf carts, Thornton responded, "I am learning more about them. Iíve met with a couple of golf cart dealers. I will look for resources that have a lot more knowledge than I do. I plan to bring a toolbox of resources to my job in Sun City Center."
On that note, Thornton made mention that he is very receptive to hearing the ideas and concerns of the residents.
Thornton has been with the HCSO for more than two years. Prior to that he spent more than four years with the Manatee County Sheriffís Office and two years with the University of Florida Police Department.
"This is definitely going to keep me busy every single day and every single minute," said Thornton referring to his new post. "I know that I can do it and Iím excited about it. Iím really looking forward to it."
An open house will be held for both Burt and Thornton on July 10 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Security Patrol Office on North Pebble Beach Blvd. The community is invited to attend.